Ms. Gleaves, we have received your return for the current year and evaluated your “adjustments” to the tax code (“Letter to the IRS,” April 19). Regarding your “reduction” for pay equity, the correct deduction should have been 26 percent, as that is the nationwide average. However, this amount is heavily dependent on career choice, education, and time in service. We find that men working in your profession are paid roughly 3 percent more than you. You may take the 3-percent deduction, but no more. Any issues you have with the enforcement of discrimination must be taken up with the Justice Department, which has decided, by the way, that the 14th Amendment no longer applies to men.
Regarding your deduction of 15 percent because of the closure of the White House Women’s Office, we deny this claim. Even though many women work for minimum wage, this is, for the most part, a career choice. And while women hold many degrees, they are mostly in the fine arts, economics, business administration, and psychology. Women who choose, for example, engineering or medicine are compensated at the market rate, equivalent to men.
Regarding your claim of 7 percent for a health-club membership, we deny this claim. That should be covered by your health plan, which we do not tax directly. We note that the amount of money spent on women’s health research outstrips that spent on men by a large sum. (The research-spending ratio of breast cancer to prostate cancer is 6-to-1, while both cancers have approximately the same incidence rate.)
Regarding your choice not to have children: We are not responsible for that. There are many expenses you do not have as a result of remaining childless, starting with diapers and ending with college. Your disposable income is considerably higher than your sister’s (or would be if you had a real job), and remaining childless enhances your personal freedom. However, we expect you to be very lonely come retirement time.
Thank you very much for contacting the IRS, and we wish you the best of luck in your upcoming audit.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Mercerville, N.J.)
I was astonished to read how Bruce Barry distorted my comments in his article (“Waging War,” April 19) on the proposed Nashville living-wage ordinance. Mr. Barry represented himself to me as a “moonlighting academic.” He is, in fact, a known liberal and president of the Tennessee ACLU. His bias is abundantly clear in his “reporting.”
I certainly did not “concede” that research points to “little impact” of living-wage laws. However, he chose to ignore the substance of my comments and instead deride my preference for targeted tax credits. There is widespread nonpartisan support for using the earned-income tax credit to encourage work and allow workers to earn their way into stable and productive private-sector jobs. Such policies support economic and employment growth rather than forcing the least skilled out of the labor force because they don’t have the skills and experience to be employed at high mandated entry-level wages.
I said that there was little respectable living-wage research because the ordinances had not been in place for very long, and it was expensive to conduct such evaluations. It’s not that research points to little impact; instead, there is little good research at all. I also informed him that Michigan State professor David Neumark has presented preliminary research showing negative effects on employment in cities that have adopted laws (such as Nashville’s proposed ordinance) that apply to businesses receiving financial assistance. I further pointed out that research on minimum-wage laws points to substitution of more skilled workers for the less skilled when wage mandates rise. I referred him to our Web site www.epionline.org where such research is available.
The living-wage debate is an opportunity for the pros and cons of various policy approaches to be discussed. Unfortunately, Mr. Barry’s article seems to consider wage mandates to be moral and upright, while condemning other approaches because their supporters include “surly” business community representatives. Mr. Barry’s political reporting is obviously affected by his anti-business bias, and it does not meet the standards of respectable journalism.
Richard S. Toikka, Ph.D., chief economist,
Employment Policies Institute
email@example.com (Washington, D.C.)
The cold truth
I really wish that I had seen the recent episode of the NewsHour on PBS in which Tip O’Neill, who has been dead for seven years, made an appearance to discuss the recent China situation (Pop Life, April 19). So tell me, Ben, how did Tip look? Was he very responsive to Jim Lehrer’s questions? Did he offer any good insights? Thanks for keeping us all up on current events.
It’s a conspiracy
I’m sure that none of the people who oppose the living wage have ever had to live on as little as $11.78 an hour. I’m appalled that anyone would have the gall to oppose thisit’s like the modern equivalent of “let them eat cake.”
It’s obvious why Bill Purcell is opposing it. He wants to run for governor, and he knows he needs corporate money to win. This is political prostitution, pure and simple. I suspect that opposition to the living wage is rooted in what Barbara Ehrenreich has called “the secret agenda” of the Republicans: to make it impossible for anyone earning less than $100,000 a year to raise a family. There are insufficient resources on this planet for everyone to live the American lifestyle, so instead of a war on poverty, make war on the poor. No welfare, no birth control, no abortion, no education, no jobs. Lots more prisons. Get the message?
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